Tag Archive: gotcha

Aug 11 2014

Media Training – Gotcha Questions

In my youth I attended a public relations training for a local civic group I was involved with.  It was basically all about staying on message and not wasting an opportunity to get your message out.  You know, just like the Professional Pols do it.  We spent hours honing our elevator pitch waiting for interviews that never happened.  

Ever since then I’ve prepared myself for that once in a lifetime opportunity, imagining when that CNN microphone would be jammed in my face and I’d have one shot to send a message to the people of earth…. Would I blow it????

I’d like to think I’d grab hold of the microphone with both hands and the message I’d send would be “Keep Right Except To Pass!” since that has always been a particular pet peeve of mine.  And that still might be how I choose to handle that once in a lifetime opportunity.

I imagine it would shake down something like this:

CNN: You sir, person walking down the street, how do you feel about the verdict in what’s being called the trial of the century?

BobbyK: (grabs microphone with own hands) While this was a very important verdict, it’s even more important to remember to keep right except to pass when traveling on the highway. Anytime you are not actively passing someone, you should move right and leave the far left lane clear for someone else who wishes to pass YOU. It’s common courtesy to keep right except to pass, and on many of our highways, keep right except to pass is the law. I urge everyone, when they think about this verdict in what’s being called the trial of the century to remember to keep right except to pass. Keeping right except to pass makes highway travel safer and less stressful for everyone on the road. It is our civic obligation when we share our roads with other drivers to keep right except to pass. When we all commit to this social contract and keep right except to pass, our country will have moved one lane closer to its full potential and promise.  When everyone keeps right except to pass, we can rightfully call ourselves exceptional. And one more thing about the verdict: Keep right except to pass!

These days well trained Pols almost never miss an opportunity to deliver their message regardless of the question asked. And our “well trained media elite” almost never call them sharp when a Pol completely dodges the question to deliver their desired sound bite. Part of being a “well trained media elite” seems to be the art of pretending to ask hard hitting questions, while actually throwing the pol a preapproved softball tailor made to be hit out of the park with a sound bite response. It’s as if the Pol and the media elite are dance partners like Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.

As long as the media and our pols maintain their access driven, poll tested sound bite stenographer, relationship the important questions will never be answered.  Which brings me to the Gotcha questions that are almost never asked… So how can we get them asked?

Town Hall campaign events? YouTube debates? Almost always prescreened and only the preapproved softballs will see the light of day.

Twitter shaming? Trending? May have some potential but there are ways to game that system too.

But whatever the method I’d like to be as ready with my questions as I am with my answer about how I feel about that verdict in the trial of the century.